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About The Book

The story of one man’s quest to become the first person to play each of America’s 100 greatest golf courses in a single year, an odyssey that brings him face to face with the gulf between his impoverished childhood in the Jim Crow South and the successful executive he became.

When he set out to play each of Golf Digest’s America’s 100 greatest golf courses in one year, Jimmie James knew he was attempting the impossible. But then again, he’d spent his entire life defying the odds.

James was born invisible. His birth certificate, long since filed away in some clerk’s office in East Texas, recorded facts about him that were deemed most relevant in the late 1950s: “colored” and “illegitimate.” His great-great-grandmother was enslaved, and his early life was confined by the privation and segregation of the late Jim Crow-era South.

Four decades later—having put himself through an HBCU and determinedly risen through the executive ranks at ExxonMobil—he embarked on his journey to play the 100 greatest golf courses in the United States. In a single year. From the first tee at Augusta National, the distance between the world he grew up in and the world of extreme privilege to which he’d now managed to gain access was impossible to ignore.

Playing from the Rough is a remarkable memoir of race, class, family, and the power of perseverance, as James braids his love of golf with reflections on the path that took him from childhood poverty to the most exclusive and opulent golf courses in America.

About The Author

Photograph by Sebastian Hernandez

Born in 1959 to a single mother of eight in Jim Crow-era Texas, Jimmie James emerged from humble beginnings, growing up in a shack without electricity or plumbing. He was the first in his family not only to graduate from high school but also to pursue and earn a college degree. He graduated from Prairie View A&M University at the top of his engineering class. In his thirty-three-year career with Exxon, James rose from an entry-level engineer to a globe-trotting executive, overseeing businesses across the world. Now retired, he splits his time between Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Kiawah Island, and enjoys golfing, travel, photography, and chess. He and his wife, Erika, have two young adult children, Jordan and Alexandra.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (July 18, 2024)
  • Length: 304 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668005972

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Raves and Reviews

“A wonderful story of passion, commitment, resilience, and determination. James has accomplished something extraordinary, both in golf and in life. His journey is truly inspiring.”—Pau Gasol, former NBA All-Star and president of Gasol16 Ventures and Gasol Foundation

"A delightful read for envious armchair golfers who dream big."Kirkus Reviews

Playing from the Rough is a beautiful story about how optimism, hard work, and faith in humanity helped an individual overcome extraordinary bias and adversity to achieve his full potential in life. It just happens to unfold against a backdrop of the country’s 100 most beautiful and challenging golf courses.”—Andrew Campion, former COO of Nike

“In Playing from the Rough, Jimmie James leads us on a discovery of golf in America. If you want to understand this country—its golf and the enduring belief in the American Dream—start here.”—Alan Shipnuck, author of LIV and Let Die

“Jimmie James is surely the envy of every golfer in America, having played each course on Golf Digest’s Top 100 list. And doing it in just one year! Even more compelling is the story of Jimmie’s life, his love for golf, and the journey of achieving this lofty goal.”—Ben Crenshaw, former PGA Tour player and Masters champion

“Sports nuts will love Jimmie James's vivid and often hilarious stories of playing—and talking his way onto—the top hundred golf courses in America all in one year. But this compelling memoir is far more than that. It’s also a moving, beautifully written account of growing up Black and poor in East Texas, of learning how to succeed in the business world, and of staying true to a cherished mother who taught James to keep an open heart to strangers and to never give up on his dreams.”—Mark Whitaker, author of Smoketown and Saying It Loud

“An uplifting American story! It is not just about the game of golf, but about playing from the rough obstacles of life. James’s inspiring journey from poverty to the most pristine private golf courses in America is a testament to the power of perseverance, hard work, and his mother’s lessons. Every young person should read his story to understand how to avoid being defined by others.”—Renee Powell, Former LPGA Tour Player and PGA of America Hall of Fame Inductee

“Tiger once said, ‘It's not what you achieve in life that matters—it's what you overcome.’ Tiger knows. Jimmie James, in his own way, does, too. Look where he started. Look where golf took him. Getting to the first tee of Augusta National is the least of it. This tale is not some country-clubber's account of la-di-da golf. This is an investigation into, as the man once sang, ‘this thing called life.’ Playing from the Rough is about making it. Define as you wish.”—Michael Bamberger, author of The Ball in the Air

“I'm so damn jealous of Jimmie James. He not only pulled off my dream golf adventure, but he wrote a book so good I haven't spoken to my laptop in a week.”—Rick Reilly, New York Times-bestselling author of Commander in Cheat and Who’s Your Caddy

“Fans of golf will enjoy getting a peak at these legendary courses, while non duffers will appreciate the internal battles and the personal stories.”Stadium Journey Magazine

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